Medical Hardship Waivers – The Importance of Documentation

A 2021 study by the NCAA revealed that 30% of student-athletes surveyed were extremely overwhelmed with 25% feeling mentally exhausted. Depression symptoms are considerably higher with college athletes than within the overall student population as a whole.

In the past few months, we’ve had a significant increase in calls asking whether a student-athlete might qualify for a Medical Hardship Waiver due to mental health issues.

Medical Hardship Waivers ARE granted for mental health issues. However, as with all waivers, medical documentation is extremely important!

Complicating this is the fact that most student-athletes find it difficult to share their mental health struggles with anyone – including their coach, a medical professional and often times, even their family.

Our goal with this article is to encourage student-athletes who are struggling to reach out to their coach, team doctor, academic advisor and/or their parents to help them connect with a licensed counselor or therapist who can help provide tools and strategies to navigate through a difficult time.

We often suggest to athletes or parents who are requesting a waiver for mental health reasons that they need to think of the situation as if it were a physical injury. With a physical injury, an athlete needs medical documentation of a “season-ending” injury from the actual time of the initial diagnosis, such as for a torn ACL or the need for “Tommy John” surgery.

The documentation needed for a mental health waiver is no different. If an athlete didn’t seek out a therapist during the actual time that they were dealing with their mental health issues, or if the therapist didn’t document the dates and some notes of the discussions that the athlete had with their therapist, it will be very difficult for an athlete to have their mental health waiver approved.

Through the years, I’ve consulted with many parents of student-athletes who have qualified and received a medical hardship waiver and come through it to achieve even higher levels of success on the field and in the classroom than before.

If you have questions regarding your student-athlete’s specific situation and want to see if they might qualify for a Medical Hardship Waiver or another type of waiver, schedule a confidential Waivers and Appeals Consult online, send an email or call our office at 913-766-1235.